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Harpers Ferry Park hosts 75th anniversary celebration

By Staff | Jul 5, 2019

HARPERS FERRY — The culmination of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park’s celebration of its 75th anniversary was held this past weekend, June 28-30.

Over the past several months, the park has offered special events highlighting the history of the park. The arrival of Fox5 news from Washington, D.C., on Friday morning brought many visitors to the town for their ‘Zip Trip’ broadcast, who then traversed the town enjoying the sites and the local shops and eateries.

“Any event in the park increases visitorship to Harpers Ferry,” said Cindi Dunn, owner of the Vintage Lady located in the historic district. “The 75th anniversary was no exception. The park is a true national treasure that brings people from all over the world. In the month of June, our shop had visitors from 43 states and 16 countries.”

Events throughout the weekend included a block party, a swing band performance, a guided tour of the Lockwood House, hikes and special history presentations, featuring discussions on everything from John Brown to industrialization and natural disasters that have affected the park. A “Through the Decades” exhibit featured a photo array from park activities and other memorabilia from the past 75 years of the park’s operation.

Many guests were on hand to share information, including Park Superintendent Tyrone Bandyburg, whose remarks opened the official celebration.

Author David Gilbert, who wrote “A Walker’s Guide to Harpers Ferry,” was on site to take visitors on a tour of Virginius Island, sharing how the island was once a thriving industrial and residential location.

Authors Dennis Frye, James Beckman, Merritt Roe Smith and Calvin Ramsey shared information about the inspiration and process of writing about Harpers Ferry, during a number of programs, including an author’s panel, which was moderated by Jonathan Noyalas.

“It was such a privilege to be part of this event,” Beckman, of Bolivar, said. “It was especially memorable for me to be part of the author’s panel with David Gilbert and Dr. Merritt Roe Smith, who are amazing people.”

According to Beckman, Gilbert’s “Walking Guide to Harpers Ferry” is one he has made use of multiple times.

“When my wife, Maria, and I moved to town several decades ago, the very first book we bought was David Gilbert’s “Walking Guide,” Beckman said. “I still consult it weekly to this day.”

Visitors to the anniversary celebration also had the opportunity to explore the town and enjoy live music, performed by acclaimed musicians.

The 18th Annual Don Redman Jazz Heritage Awards and Concert, which usually takes place on the grounds of Storer College, was held this year at the Gathering Tent in Lower Town. The yearly concert commemorates internationally acclaimed and influential jazz musician Don Redman, who was a graduate of Storer College in 1920. This year’s concert featured performances by 2019 honorees Gary Bartz and Jon Faddis. Also playing were the Howard Burns Quartet and the 2019 Don Redman Next Generation Jazz Scholars, which included members Josh Holmes, Nathanial Dillard, Gabe Jones, Sidney Cunningham and Kristian Moore.